Wild Wild Wednesdays- Mushroom Hunting

**On Wild Wild Wednesdays I’ll share with you a new recipe for how to use your wild meat whether it be venison, elk or moose! I’ll also add in other wild foraged foods to delight you! I might throw in the odd recipe for chicken, duck or goose that could be adapted to wild meat. If you don’t have wild meat, feel free to sub a similar cut of beef!**

Have you ever been mushroom hunting? Do you enjoy eating mushrooms and see mushrooms outside but wonder which ones won’t kill you? All good questions. 

Four autumns ago we were sitting around our little cabin on the weekend, kind of bored. ‘Why don’t we go mushroom hunting?’ I asked Marius. He looked at me like a stunned bunny. You see, I’m yet to find a mushroom I enjoy eating! And foraging wild mushrooms? Isn’t that how people kill themselves?! ‘We’ll look up some varieties on the internet and go for a walk’ I suggested. No dice he answered. ‘How about we go to the book store and find a field guide…then go for a walk?!’ NOW I had his attention!

Next thing I knew we were in the car on the way to the bookstore! We talked to the owners of the small bookstore and settled for this book; All That the Rain Promises and More… (not an affiliate link)

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Yeah…he’s kinda creepy looking, but this book is where it’s at! It truly fits in your pocket! He has a much more expanded book my Mom has, called Mushrooms Demystified. Nice to have, but we’ve done all we do with just the pocket guide.

Our first time out we hiked around the woods at my Moms house, picking and identifying every mushroom we came across! Everyone that was edible we brought home to cook. We quickly learned that just because they’re edible, doesn’t mean that they’re that good to eat. Also noted, some of the varieties that are considered edible but not tasty, actually can be tasty!

The second year we decided to go off island to Cowichan and go hunting! So worth it! This was also the year that for his Christmas present Marius went on a mushroom walk course. I just found out that the guy wrote a book too! Find it here. 

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The next year was a bit of a bust for hunting because we couldn’t go off island and on island was a bad year. This year has been amazing on island, we haven’t even been off island and Marius has two gallons packed of dried chanterelle and lobster mushrooms!

When and where should I go?

For us on the west coast of Canada, fall is the big mushroom season. Old growth forest with mossy ground has done as well. Also! White chanterelle were plentiful in thick salal this year. It was harder work digging through the salal but they’re there! Don’t discount the spring though! Thats when Morels are found!

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With morels, where we are most successful is just looking on people’s lawns! So anytime you go anywhere, take a quick peek for Morels 😉 They pop up in March/April. At my Moms house, where we’ve found them on the lawn, we spread the cold wood ashes from the wood stove as they help feed the organism.

So, you’re all excited to go now! But still a bit apprehensive. I get it. It’s going outside your comfort zone! It was outside of ours a few years ago! Here are our rules we follow.

1) Get a guide you can bring into the bush with you.

Some identifying factors have to do with where mushrooms are grown. If the book says it grows under firs, but you’re in a forest of arbutus? Than you probably shouldn’t pick it. 

2) Know possible look alike. 

The chanterelle, for example, has a look alike in the Jack o’Lantern mushroom. There is one very distinguishable trait that the inside flesh of the stalks is different, but if you didn’t know that, you could pick the wrong mushroom. We’ve personally never found a Jack o’Lantern mushroom, but we’re aware.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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3) Don’t eat white mushrooms.

Now of course there will be exceptions, but honestly, this year is the first year we’ve eaten a white mushroom. It’s too hard to mix them up with other white ones, and there is plenty o’ poisonous white mushrooms! Russulas are doing SO well where we are so we did eat them and enjoyed them. We were very careful about identifying them. 

4) When reading through important identifying features, have a partner.

One of us holds the book, the other the mushroom. So when I read aloud “Veil absent”, Marius checks for that. It’s double insurance, and makes sure that you don’t skim through. Proper identification is important! Lest you have a partner, still read aloud to yourself. I find you often catch things you wouldn’t when reading in your head.

5) Accept that you may become obsessed.

It’s free food people. How can you pass that up?! And to get that free food? You go for a walk in the woods! Thats like free therapy. Can’t pass that up either. Marius was building tree stands with a friend on their farm, and when they were driving back in the Kubota (some all terrain farm vehicle thingy) he told him to STOP. Well Andrew thought he’d seen a deer. Nope, Marius came back with an armful of lobster mushrooms to a very skeptical Andrew. Moral of the story? You’ll be considered a bit weird, but I’m okay with that.

 

NOW! Get out there and go look for mushrooms! Before the season is over!

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The Cowboy

So I’ve kept the identity of my Husband kinda secret. I’ve called him Cowboy. Not because he rides horses. In fact, he doesn’t like riding horses, he kind of despises them.

He’s milked a cow for the majority of the past 4 years, so his name comes from the fact that

You smell like a Cow, Boy!

I honestly do call him Cowboy around the house, but I’m sure you’ve all picked up on the fact that it’s not his real name! No sir-ee bob! My Husbands name is Marius, also known as Mare. Like the female horse! Said “Marry-us” not “Marr-ee-us”. In honour of the reveal, I thought I’d share a fun little “Marius through the ages”

I’d guess he was 3 1/2 in this picture with his Dad and Sister. Obviously, his dad has got a moose!

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He thinks he was about 14 or 15 in this picture. His first buck!

 

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Buckley lake, age 18. Schat's scanned pictures May 2011 34

 

He shot this one at my Moms just before dark and tried to take pictures with our camera, but they weren’t coming out well, so we went to my Moms house and got her fancy camera with a fancy flash. His first buck on Salt Spring!

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This was a year ago. Can’t tell you where or I’d give away our favourite Chantarelle spot!

 

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I noticed a theme of dead things and food in these photos…it just happens to be when he’s got his best smile on!

September

So you’ve caught up on our summer, right?

Well here’s what happened this September! It seemed to be a photo heavy month so it’s got a whole post right to itself.

Hunting season kicked off and Mac was ready to spot them!

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I had to rely mostly on iPhone for taking pictures as Cowboy always stole my camera to take pictures of deer while scouting. While they aren’t magazine worthy pictures, I think he’s got some neat light and shadows in some of them!

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My sister Molly got more and more pregnant as we spent more and more time playing with Amy.

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Then, one night it happened! (This is Amy eating cheese at 10:30 pm after getting dropped off at our house as Molly was in labour). That girl was high on life and so excited! I wanted to sleep. (I was 31 weeks pregnant.)

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The first pictures of Amy as a big sister! She didn’t know it yet though.

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Here is June! We are so in love with her.

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We celebrated her birth with french fries.

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Just four days later…

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Oh and we got ducks! A young trio of Silver Appleyards. Isn’t that the neatest name ever?!

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All the while my belly got bigger and bigger…

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I’m Back

It’s been an interesting summer, fall and beginning of winter. Our family has had some really rough times, and it’s tested our family and faith for sure.

 

I see now more than ever how much I really need to write on my blog, because it’s a fun, creative writing activity that is just for Mommy.

 

I started taking pictures of this tanning a couple months ago, with the intention of posting it on the blog. Now you’re going to get to see these! This is our first time tanning, by no means are we experts, or even CLOSE to that. So bear with us, and if you’ve tanned using this method, or have any other suggestions, I’d love your constructive ideas!

 

Here is the blacktail deer hide, off the deer, and salted. We salt the hide right away so if I don’t get to it right away, in cool weather (we have an average temperature here of 5-10 degrees celcius) it will keep for a long time. I know this for a fact as I’ve forgotten about these hides since September. Woops. Hopefully posting about the beginning process will nudge me to continue.

This is the tail sticking out on the right. There is forest debris, bits of meat, fat, sinew, all which needs to be taken off so that the salt can penetrate.

In this close up, it’s an edge piece, where there is still a lot of meat. You sprinkle coarse salt, not fine salt. I’m not quite sure why, but Cowboy, who’s done this lots before, says it works better. (You’ll see further down how I did it without coarse salt! I got heck for that!)

 

Next, you ‘flesh’ the hide, scraping with a sharp knife to get off all of the meat, fat and sinew. Just scraping far far down there!

Here is Mac, Cowboy and I do it at night. We used our freezer to do it on, and if you do it at night, then the wasps weren’t there. For some reason this year the wasps were out really late.

 

See how the hide is getting whiter, and there is less fat and meat? This is what you want!

 

Here is the finished product after the initial fleshing.

 

It’s not perfect, obviously. You can still see bits of other things, but that’s okay! It’s going to get fleshed even more.

It now has to sit for a minimum of a couple weeks rolled up and salted. My next step is I have to find the right ‘chemicals’ to soak it in so the hair falls out. I’m making leather, not a hair on hide.

Deer Fever.

Also affectionately known as ‘Buck Fever’.

You know you’re starting to get it bad when it’s still 5 months away and you’re itching from the heat of it.

Sofya, over at The Girls’ Guide to Guns and Butter, was talking about hunting yesterday. It ticked the fever to a whole other level.

(Shot at my Mom’s house just before dark. Didn’t get pictures until after dark though! Had to milk with headlamps that night…2008)

I haven’t been able to hunt much in the last couple years. Raising a baby does that to you apparently. I was raised in a pro-hunting family. My Dad would be watching in our field during dinner for deer.

I vividly remember my Grandma and Poppa being over for dinner, us all at the dinner table, when either my Poppa or Dad spotted a deer at the end of the field. My Dad jumped in the truck and drove part of the way, then snuck up the rest of the way. Once we heard the shot, we jumped in my grandparents car to go see what he gotten! Other times Mom would tell us to go wait in the tractor. Dad would shoot the deer, slit it’s throat, then walk back to the house. We’d be waiting in the tractor bucket and Dad would let us ride out to get it with him.

More than just deer were shot. Geese, grouse and ducks graced our table. My Dad said we would eat a mallard drake over most things. Apparently I ate 18 oz of moose at a young age as well. Yum. It was normal for ducks to be hanging on our porch, and in kindergarden I brought grouse feet in for show and tell. That didn’t go over well with the other kids. Duck hunting trips were the best with Dad. Sunny D and Donuts sitting by a duck pond. All right!

It helped that my Mom knew how to cook it so well too. This is her recipe by the way.

Both of my parents were raised in the same way. My Mom’s parents more than the others. They were in their mid-twenties with 5 little mouths to feed, deer were in abundance. Always had been. My Poppa had an amazing shot, able to skillfully kill a deer without modern things such as scopes. Eating Venison made sense.

And the price was right. What’s to argue about that? It costs you a bullet (Maybe $1?) and a package of butcher paper. ($7). The deer here are smaller, getting maybe 60lbs off of a carcass. I’d say $8 for 60 lbs of meat is a darn good price. Of course there are hours of labour that go into it as well. I love butchering though. It’s so gratifying.

Cowboy too, was raised in a hunting family. His Dad is majorly into it, and his Dad’s Dad is a fanatic. Meticulously perfectly fanatic about hunting. Cowboy’s paternal grandmother butchers moose on the kitchen table. “Oh I just bring it in a quarter at a time” she says. Love it.

I eagerly await this fall, hoping to bag a couple deer. Hunting grounds are rapidly shrinking on our island, but we make the most of it. We expanded our weaponry to a cross-bow. I can’t cock it, but that’s okay. I just have to be able to pull the trigger for now, right? I’m working on it though, it’s just ridiculously hard.

I was always into hunting, but now being engaged to someone who has two seasons in his life “Deer Season” and “Not Deer Season”, it makes me appreciate it more and yearn for the opportunity.

A mule deer like this only comes around once in a lifetime…

The backstraps alone from this deer fed 16 hungry people. My husband scored it at 186 in the Boone and Crockett books guide. I don’t usually ‘score’ a rack, but since it was so nice, we had to try our hand at it. My husband quite enjoys scoring his racks for fun.

Happy Deer Season Dreaming!

8 Random Photos of the Past

A picture says 1,000 words, so let me give you 8,000 words! There is no chronological order to these, by the way.

1) When Mac was 8 days old, he was asked to be in a professional photo shoot for a friends company. Of course we said yes, and we packed up diaper bags, blankets and baby to head out. While we have many many cute photos from that day, this is the one where he had his first blow out diaper and the blanket he’s on, thus it became ours!

2) Here is the first time Mac was in a cloth diaper! He was 4 days old and I thought he looked adorable. We usually put covers on, but this picture is just the dipe.

3) Here are the cupcakes my sister and cousin made for my baby shower!

4) This is Elton Mac

5) Mac’s first time going to church at 4 days old!

6) My first mule deer. It blows any deer Cowboy has EVER gotten out of the water. Hah.

7) This is an ultrasound of my now 8 month old niece, when she was maybe 10 weeks along!

8 ) I’m mean aren’t I, to show you this photo? I got a call one day from Cowboy.

Cowboy: “Sooo…I just got out of the hospital…”

Me: “WHAT?!”

C: “I cut my hand at work and I needed stitches”

Me: “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME WHEN IT HAPPENED!!”

C: “Because you would have freaked out like you are now and driven to the hospital and had to wait here with Mac for hours with me”

Me: “Oh”

C: “See you at the end of the day”

Me: “Love you too”